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Missouri redistricting plan that spares Democrat’s congressional seat advances

Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City

The Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City as seen on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

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JEFFERSON CITY — Republicans on the House Redistricting Committee on Wednesday advanced a draft congressional map that likely maintains the status quo in Missouri’s congressional delegation.

The plan, which moved to the House Rules Committee on a party-line vote, leaves two safe Democratic seats in Missouri, a setback for GOP hard-liners who want to gerrymander Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s 5th District to send another Republican to Washington.

The three Democrats on the committee opposed the plan after Republicans resisted two amendments that the minority party proposed.

Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, said her amendment would bolster the 1st Congressional District’s majority-minority status for the next decade.

“Anything that we can do to strengthen this district we should be doing,” Bosley said.

The committee had earlier approved an amendment that placed all of Ray County, in western Missouri, in one district rather than splitting it between two.

Republicans said Bosley’s amendment would negate the Ray County fix because boundary changes in that amendment weren’t incorporated into the Democratic proposal.

Rep. Jerome Barnes, D-Kansas City, said “we as the minority party haven’t been able to put no input into this bill.”

Rep. Dan Shaul, an Imperial Republican who is leading the House panel, disagreed.

“I believe we’ve talked extensively throughout the interim about this bill and the direction it was headed,” he said. “I think that’s an unfair statement.”

Rather than pursuing an aggressive gerrymander to eliminate Cleaver’s district, the plan approved Wednesday leaves the safe Democratic district intact. Republicans would likely hold six of the state’s eight House seats under the plan.

The 1st District, represented by Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis, would remain heavily Democratic and would take in more of mid and south St. Louis County.

The 2nd Congressional District, held by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, would shed parts of Jefferson County that have been part of the district and would extend farther into St. Charles County.

St. Charles County would be divided between the 2nd and 3rd congressional districts.

But in a sign of turbulence for the GOP redistricting plan as drafted, Rep. Nick Schroer, R-St. Charles County, sent a letter to Shaul on Wednesday urging him to place the county completely within one district.

The letter was signed by every member of the county’s delegation whose district is completely within St. Charles County, according to a version Schroer tweeted Wednesday.

“The current division of this community of interest contained within your House Bill 2117 will unduly burden the residents of St. Charles County,” Schroer said.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, was scheduled to present her draft congressional map to the House Redistricting Committee on Wednesday afternoon.

She said her plan makes the 2nd more competitive. It also takes the 1st Congressional District into St. Charles.

Shaul said the tentative plan is for the House Rules Committee to take action on the GOP congressional map Thursday before it is considered by the full House on Tuesday.

The legislation is House Bill 2117.

Originally posted at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12.

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